Author Topic: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...  (Read 13336 times)

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Lisbeth

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2010, 04:20:26 PM »
Pod to Deb1000Faces.

Or,

"I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with his academic credentials, and I'm not willing to write untruths about the personal ones I know about, because I'd be putting my own reputation and credentials on the line.  Please don't expect me to do that."
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Orisha

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2010, 04:40:18 PM »
On the other hand, I think you might be conflating undergraduate admissions and graduate admissions. They are not the same processes at all. Such a letter would be poison for grad admissions, but depending on the selectiveness of the college, a character reference might be fine (although more appropriate if it was something like a volunteer work supervisor, etc). If you are only worried about your reputation, it is highly unlikely (at most colleges) that it will be read by anyone in your field; usually only admissions counselors deal with application materials. And admissions counselors are unlikely to know your name, even if you were a superfamous scholar.

I've been on a graduate admissions committee and am familiar with that process, but wasn't sure what an undergrad admissions committee entails at the various schools where he's applying.  I know that at my (small, highly-selective) undergrad, faculty did serve on admissions committees as part of their "service."  (And my profs used to complain about it, because it was a lot of work on top of a heavy load...though the faculty did fight to be included in the admissions there.)  Faculty at my research university (flagship state U) also rotate through admissions duty.   I don't know.  Maybe they're unusual.  G is applying to my PhD institution, where I'm also faculty, so my letter might count there.  In any case, I'm not going to write them.  I've decided that if the mother gets upset, that's just too bad.


JacklynHyde

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2010, 09:53:12 PM »
I still remember my mother going berserk trying to write a recommendation letter for one of my classmates (she taught at my high school).  The student was absolutely average in terms of his academics but tried to get by on charm.  My mother was not charmed.  She sat at the kitchen table with the admissions form, turned to me and wailed, "What am I supposed to say?  That he looks good in a suit?  That's the only positive thing I can think of at this point."

Stick to your guns if there's nothing positive you can ponder.

Orisha

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2010, 11:14:44 PM »
I still remember my mother going berserk trying to write a recommendation letter for one of my classmates (she taught at my high school).  The student was absolutely average in terms of his academics but tried to get by on charm.  My mother was not charmed.  She sat at the kitchen table with the admissions form, turned to me and wailed, "What am I supposed to say?  That he looks good in a suit?  That's the only positive thing I can think of at this point."

Stick to your guns if there's nothing positive you can ponder.

I always wondered if high school teachers had the same freedom to decline writing recommendations as most professors do.  I've known some profs who've written lousy students rec. letters because they were at a "customer service" oriented university and were afraid that they wouldn't get tenure if the student complained.  But my suspicion is that K-12 teachers may be more vulnerable to politics and other such nonesense. 

Bob Ducca

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2010, 07:55:58 AM »
I still remember my mother going berserk trying to write a recommendation letter for one of my classmates (she taught at my high school).  The student was absolutely average in terms of his academics but tried to get by on charm.  My mother was not charmed.  She sat at the kitchen table with the admissions form, turned to me and wailed, "What am I supposed to say?  That he looks good in a suit?  That's the only positive thing I can think of at this point."

Stick to your guns if there's nothing positive you can ponder.

I always wondered if high school teachers had the same freedom to decline writing recommendations as most professors do.  I've known some profs who've written lousy students rec. letters because they were at a "customer service" oriented university and were afraid that they wouldn't get tenure if the student complained.  But my suspicion is that K-12 teachers may be more vulnerable to politics and other such nonesense.  

It's not required, and I won't do it unless they leave me everything to send it directly to the school.  My fear would be that I would write the letter, Mom would read it, decide it's not complimentary enough, and go to the principal or school board to complain, which could absolutely happen.  I've written many, and it's hard to say no, but I have before.

Orisha

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2010, 02:28:40 PM »
I still remember my mother going berserk trying to write a recommendation letter for one of my classmates (she taught at my high school).  The student was absolutely average in terms of his academics but tried to get by on charm.  My mother was not charmed.  She sat at the kitchen table with the admissions form, turned to me and wailed, "What am I supposed to say?  That he looks good in a suit?  That's the only positive thing I can think of at this point."

Stick to your guns if there's nothing positive you can ponder.

I always wondered if high school teachers had the same freedom to decline writing recommendations as most professors do.  I've known some profs who've written lousy students rec. letters because they were at a "customer service" oriented university and were afraid that they wouldn't get tenure if the student complained.  But my suspicion is that K-12 teachers may be more vulnerable to politics and other such nonesense.  

It's not required, and I won't do it unless they leave me everything to send it directly to the school.  My fear would be that I would write the letter, Mom would read it, decide it's not complimentary enough, and go to the principal or school board to complain, which could absolutely happen.  I've written many, and it's hard to say no, but I have before.

I'm glad to hear that K-12 faculty still have some autonomy.  Traditionally, college faculty have enjoyed a fair bit of autonomy, but in recent years, university faculty have started to have to deal with what are politely called "helicopter parents," who want to dictate how we do our jobs.  With these "helicopter parents" has come a fair sense of entitlement, wherein the parents and their SS are under the impression that faculty are obligated to write letters and will not hesitate to contact lawyers if they're dissatisfied with the content.  G's mother is definitely one of them.  Obviously, not all students are SS and not all parents are helicopter parents. 

artk2002

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2010, 05:34:22 PM »
I still remember my mother going berserk trying to write a recommendation letter for one of my classmates (she taught at my high school).  The student was absolutely average in terms of his academics but tried to get by on charm.  My mother was not charmed.  She sat at the kitchen table with the admissions form, turned to me and wailed, "What am I supposed to say?  That he looks good in a suit?  That's the only positive thing I can think of at this point."

Stick to your guns if there's nothing positive you can ponder.

I always wondered if high school teachers had the same freedom to decline writing recommendations as most professors do.  I've known some profs who've written lousy students rec. letters because they were at a "customer service" oriented university and were afraid that they wouldn't get tenure if the student complained.  But my suspicion is that K-12 teachers may be more vulnerable to politics and other such nonesense. 

My ex, who teaches middle school, wrote a letter of recommendation to a special program for one of her students.  The administration got mad at her for doing that, saying that they should be reviewing the letters before they're sent out.  So yes, they can be subject to politics.  They were afraid of my ex offending some got-rocks SS parents.
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Darcy

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2010, 07:30:06 PM »
My ex, who teaches middle school, wrote a letter of recommendation to a special program for one of her students.  The administration got mad at her for doing that, saying that they should be reviewing the letters before they're sent out.  So yes, they can be subject to politics.  They were afraid of my ex offending some got-rocks SS parents.

I've heard of that.  In my BA program, the professors (as far as I know) were subject to their own discretion in writing recommendations.

Orisha

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2010, 09:24:09 AM »
My ex, who teaches middle school, wrote a letter of recommendation to a special program for one of her students.  The administration got mad at her for doing that, saying that they should be reviewing the letters before they're sent out.  So yes, they can be subject to politics.  They were afraid of my ex offending some got-rocks SS parents.

I've heard of that.  In my BA program, the professors (as far as I know) were subject to their own discretion in writing recommendations.

I think that this is still the case most of the time, excepting perhaps, for-profit universities.  The sad thing is that those who insist on reviewing confidential recs for content are essentially rendering the recs useless/suspect. 

boxy

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2010, 08:59:04 PM »
Why isn't the son asking you to write the letter?  If it's that important to HIM, then he should be asking.  At that point you can speak to him directly, determine if he's sincere in going to college and make a decision.


Orisha

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2010, 11:11:39 PM »
Why isn't the son asking you to write the letter?  If it's that important to HIM, then he should be asking.  At that point you can speak to him directly, determine if he's sincere in going to college and make a decision.



That's another thing...I'm not all the sure whether college is his idea or his mother's.  But in any case, I'm not going to write the letter. 

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2010, 11:11:40 AM »
Or you could say, "He looks good in a suit."

Sorry.  To be serious, I would ask the mom, "Exactly what do you want me to say?"  Then shoot her down, "I can't say that, he's not a good student.  I can't say that he has great drive and ambition, he doesn't want to do this, he's just giving in to you.  I know of nothing positive to say about him that would help him to get him into college."

Are these people cousins-in-law?  I think I would refuse my own sister if she was pressuring me to write a letter that was not warranted.
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Mediancat

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2010, 03:08:16 PM »
In high school, I actually had a teacher ask me to come with reasons why she should write a recommendation letter. (This was a teacher I'd had for four years with whom I'd had a dust-up over a nonacademic issue, concerning the nature of a personal book I'd brought to class).

I came up with ten good things she could say about me (without lying), and she honored her word and wrote the letter. Were you inclined to do so, that would be the tack I would take.

I know you're not inclined to do so, and I don't blame you in the least.

Rob
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virgo

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2010, 01:28:39 PM »
This subject reminds me of an episode of the "Sopranos" where Carmella wanted a neighbor's sister (an alumna) to write a letter of recommendation to Georgetown for her daughter, Meadow.

The woman was, understandingly, reluctant since she didn't really know Meadow (who was a good student, incidentally).  When Carmella came to the woman's office, she brought a ricotta pie as a gift.  When the woman demurred about writing the recommendation, Carmella threatened her (sort of), there was definitely an implied threat there.  I don't know if the letter was ever written, but Meadow ended up at Columbia.

At least you're not being threatened by a "mob wife."  LOL ;D

chicajojobe

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Re: Letter of Recommendation/friend of the family...
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2010, 04:42:04 PM »
I'd recommend sticking to your guns with "I'm sorry that won't be possible" and when it comes to explanation go with what you've already said, that you haven't been G's teacher so you don't feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for him since you don't know him in an academic capacity.